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Buildings (not cars) will save the planet


Alright, pop quiz time.

In any major city in the United States, what is the largest emitter of carbon emissions?

Is it A, cars and transportation, B, factories and manufacturing, or C, buildings?  

If you guessed buildings, you're absolutely right, and you've clearly been watching my building series for a long time now.

Everybody thinks that the electric car is going to save the planet. And it is a wonderful invention, don't get me wrong.

zero targeting cars

But if you actually look at the data, almost two thirds of carbon emissions in almost every major city in the United States are coming from how buildings operate.  And it kind of makes sense when you think about it.

Buildings Are The Largest Consumers Of Energy In Cities

Buildings not only are the places where we power all of our electronics from our TVs to our smartphones and our computers, they're also the places that require tremendous energy to run central systems like Heating systems, like cooling systems, like elevators, pumps and motors. These things use a tremendous amount of energy and they run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"Utilities even offer financial incentives to encourage building owners to improve energy efficiency in their buildings."

This is why you see so much legislation recently targeted at reducing carbon footprints of buildings, not cars.

In fact, in New York alone, we've had four major pieces of legislation in the last five years targeting building carbon emissions, and zero targeting cars and transportation. 

And the reason this legislation is happening now is not only because the vast majority of carbon is coming from buildings, but they're also the lowest hanging fruit for reducing carbon emissions - because most buildings are running incredibly inefficiently.

two thirds

New Technologies Enable Cost-Effective Energy Efficiency

Things like smart controls, LED lights, better insulation, variable speed motors - these are things that are having a transformative impact on the carbon footprint of almost every building in every major city.

It's pretty crazy that cities have to be pushing people, because in most cases, making your building more energy efficient also saves you a lot of money. It's one of those rare situations where what's good for the pocketbook ends up also being great for the planet.

Utility Companies Offer Rebates To Encourage Energy Efficiency

Many energy efficiency upgrades can qualify for rebates from most local utilities. You can use this free tool to see which ones your building qualifies for.

So next time you're wondering, how do we make cities green - it's not about the cars we spend an hour or two a day in. It's about the buildings we spend the rest of our lives living and working in.